Category Archives: The Session

The Session #82: Beery Yarns

The SessionThis month’s Session is hosted by Beer’s I’ve Known who has chosen what promises to be a great topic for these long winter nights – Beery Yarns:

I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections (in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand. Only proviso is that it has to involve beer in some way.

For my contribution I’ve also collected together a few random tales I’ve read that could loosely be considered beery yarns, at least they all involve pubs.

A Noted Liar

I’m hoping there’ll be some contributions along the lines of the World’s Biggest Liar Competition that’s still held in Cumbria each year at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge. Story-telling competitions occured in pubs here in Cambridge too:

“One of the ways in which people have always found pleasant relaxation at the end of a day’s work is in either listening to or narrating good stories over a glass of ale.

As the evening progressed the tales tended to become more exaggerated and improbable, and many elderely Cambridgeshire people have recalled that it was customary to reward the narrators with some token of their listeners’ appreciation. The award usually took the form of free beer, but there were other prizes – a ‘silver’ cup, crudely made of thin tin and suitably inscribed; a ribbon rosette or a medal. These were usually kept in the public house and solemnly handed to the teller of the story which was judged to be the ‘tallest’ of the evening.

In 1964 a blacksmith-made iron ‘medal’ bearing the words ‘The Noted Liar’ was found in the garden of the Pike and Eel at Chesterton. This inn was a popular meeting-place not only of local people, but also of the watermen who used to work on the barges and lighters which carried goods between King’s Lynn and Cambridge. It is very probable that this medal was pinned to the coat of many a good story-teller” (Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, Enid Porter, 1969)

Unfortunately that particular riverside pub closed a few years ago and faces demolition to be replaced by flats, bringing to an end that story.

Noted Liar

‘The Noted Liar’ – Medal for a Story Teller, from Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, Enid Porter

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The Session #73 Roundup

Hosting this month’s Session, on the topic of a Beer Audit, gave me an excuse to indulge in beer voyeurism, drooling over photos showing boxes of beer, shelves of beer, beds of beer and Alcofrolic Chap’s wonderful home bar.

The Session

It turns out I’m not alone in hoarding beer and taking some sort of beer audit, with responses covering varying degrees of accountancy, and ‘cellars’ with volumes ranging from Beer Runner’s three bottles or Booze, Beats & Bites pack of Carling in the fridge, through to Brookston Beer Bulletin‘s purpose built cellar “cut into the side of a hill, with a gravel floor, with a raised brick floor running around the four walls.” It seems most people at least took this month’s session as an excuse to take stock of the beers they store, even if this was simply looking at what they had and, as Appellation Beer says, “just thinking about it”.

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The Session #73 Announcement: Beer Audit

The Session

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants. The next session takes place on March 1st and I get to host it. Here’s the topic…

Beer audit

Once or twice a year I take a beer audit. I open cupboards and boxes and just have a good look at what’s there. Some beers get moved about, some make it from a box into the fridge, others get pushed further to the back of the cupboard for another day. Often I just stare at the bottles for a while and think about when I’ll drink them. Apart from the enjoyment of just looking at a hoard of beer, It tells me something about my drinking habits.

  • I store too many bottles – over 150 at the last count, which would keep me in beer for over a month, compared to less than a week’s worth of food – but evidently that’s still not enough bottles as I return with more every time I leave the house.
  • I have a tendency to hoard strong, dark beers – great for a winter evening, not so great when a lazy sunny afternoon starts with a 9% imperial stout and then gets stronger
  • My cellaring could be improved. I found three beers from breweries that closed last year. I found these, not hidden away in a box under the stairs, but in the fridge. The fridge!!!
  • My attempts to age beer usually just result in beer that’s past its best
  • The oldest beer in my cupboard is probably an infant compared to the aged beers people must have in their cellars

So, I’m interested to know if you take stock of the beers you have, what’s in your cellar, and what does it tell you about your drinking habits. This could include a mention of the oldest, strongest, wildest beers you have stored away, the ratio of dark to light, strong to sessionable, or musings on your beer buying habits and the results of your cellaring. I look forward to reading your posts on Friday March 1st, leave a comment here when you do.


Brewers and Drinkers – The Session #71

The Session

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.

This month, John at Home Brew Manual asks ‘How does brewing affect your enjoyment of drinking beer?’

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The incessant influx of novelty – The session #68

The Session

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.

This month, 99 Pours hosts the session with the theme Novelty Beers, announcing:

With the onslaught of even weirder beards… erm… beers… than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have.” We’ve even seen some novelty beers in our top-sellers. But beer traditionalists sometimes frown on these new and bizarre concoctions.

What novelty beer comes to mind when you think: Is this beer just to strange to stay around? Why in the world would they choose ingredients most beer drinkers have never heard of …what the heck is a qatar fruit? If it’s okay for beer to taste like tea or coffee, why not pizza? If wild yeasts are allowed to ferment beer, then why not beard yeast? If oysters, why not bacon? If pumpkin’s good enough for pie, why not beer? Since hops are flowers, why not brew with actual flowers?

Here are my thoughts:

“There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dulness.”

– Henry David Thoreau

If novelty beers counter dull beers, then I’m all for them. Brewing beer with hops was once a novelty. If novelty now drives the cultivation of new hop varieties, it must be a good thing. I can’t imagine a summer without a Citra hopped beer now, yet this was a novelty beer to me just a few years ago. Similarly, I viewed Black IPAs with suspician when I first came across them, but now some rank amongst my favourite beers. Novelty beers at least offer variety – I’ll try an ale brewed with Bogmyrtle and infused with flowering heather, over a Bud Light any day. But then how new and unusual are novelty beers?

There is no new thing under the sun

– Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

If Williams are ‘the only brewery still producing this unique style of beer’ then Heather Ale is a novelty beer of sorts, but Williams date the recipe back four thousand years. This week’s stout made with bulls testicles isn’t really such a novelty – when Stuart Howe of Sharp’s Brewery made a beer with offal a couple of years ago, Zytophile referred to Mercers Meat Stout, while Peter Brissenden pointed to a 17th century ‘Cock Ale‘. All manner of meats, insects, herbs and spices have been added to beer over the centuries, ‘it hath been already of old time’.

Beer as novelty gift

But if by novelty beers we mean those beers that appear at Christmas Markets, with names like Cat’s Pee Pale Ale and Bullshit Bitter, aimed at people looking for ‘amusing’ gifts, there I draw the line. I tasted a variety of such beers from one supplier and when they advertise proudly they’re the ‘WORST BEERS IN THE WORLD, EVER!’ they are not joking – each beer got poured after the first sip. They are to creativity what cliffs are to lemmings.

Has anybody brewed a beer with lemmings? If they did, I guess everyone else would soon follow…